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Strategic plan offers different models for EDC to consider

March 17, 2013

An economic development strategic plan commissioned for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission contains a lengthy list of tasks to be accomplished over the next five years, but many are predicated on whether the county decides to restructure the commission.

The strategic plan offered different models for economic development for the county to consider, including continuing the commission as an agency of government or changing to a public-private corporation.

The strategic plan suggests that a decision on whether to restructure the commission be made by the Washington County Board of County Commissioners in 2013. This year and in 2014, the EDC’s existing board and staff would continue in their current roles during the transition “if reorganization to a nonprofit corporation is approved,” the plan said.

In 2014, the EDC should consider relocating its offices, moving closer to other economic organizations in downtown Hagerstown, the plan said. The EDC also should negotiate an agreement with Hagerstown making the EDC the lead economic development organization and combine staff and budgets as appropriate, the plan said.

In 2014 through 2017, other organizations — Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greater Hagerstown Committee, Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and Maryland Department of Community and Economic Development — should work to improve communications with each other and conduct regular strategy meetings, according to the five-year plan.

From 2015 to 2017, a new EDC, if created, should look into creating and marketing a small-business loan fund by seeking federal certification to qualify as a nonprofit lender, and develop a revolving loan program for targeted technology businesses and small businesses.

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— Don Aines

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